Sunday, June 17, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Monday's letters: Keep tabs on airport spending

Tampa International Airport

Keep tabs on project outlays

The $2.3 billion expansion of Tampa International Airport, now in its third year of construction, is running into turbulence.

The first phase of the plan, which includes $1 billion for a new rental car facility and renovations to the main terminal, is behind schedule and over budget. Now, Florida state Sen. Tom Lee and House Speaker Richard Corcoran are calling for a state audit. They are right to do so. Whenever the state hands over billions of tax dollars, Floridians deserve to know how the money is being spent.

The first phase of the expansion, originally due to be completed this year, has been pushed back to 2018. And the project is experiencing cost overruns at a time when its sources of funding are in jeopardy. The airport has financed the project with a $195 million grant from the state and approximately $800 million in new bond debt, to be funded by increased parking rates, new fees on car rentals and existing sources of revenue like fees on airline tickets.

The revenue from all these sources is likely to disappoint. Passenger numbers at Tampa International grew only 0.6 percent last year — far short of the 2.7 percent annual growth the airport projected. Ticket sales, therefore, will probably fall short of expectations. Meanwhile, ridesharing services will cut into parking revenue and rental car fees.

Taxpayers are right to worry they will be on the hook for the shortfall. They might also ask why they are funding a nearly $1 billion rental car facility in the first place. Tourists may enjoy the convenience, and rental car companies will profit handsomely. But the average family is unlikely to see much benefit.

Florida's lawmakers should support auditing Tampa International Airport. Taxes ought to support core government services — not be wasted on special interests.

Chris Hudson, Tallahassee

The writer is the Florida state director of Americans for Prosperity.

Great day for good causes | May 4

Small nonprofit's success

First, thanks to the Times for your excellent reporting and for all you do in the community.

It was with great excitement that I read the article last week about Give Day Tampa Bay. As the director of Chabad of Clearwater, it was a great honor and a humbling experience that our center was the grand prize winner in the small nonprofit category. Considering we had 769 total donors, more than any nonprofit both small and large, I was surprised that there was no mention of our organization in the article.

Although the online edition of the article was later updated, out of respect to the record 769 donors to the campaign, as well as all the hardworking volunteers who made it happen, I feel it is necessary for the Times to inform all the print readers, as well, of this great accomplishment.

Printing this letter will partially do the job. Thank you.

Rabbi Levi Hodakov, director, Chabad of Clearwater

Comments

Monday’s letters: Skip those plastic bags and save the environment

To save our seas, overcome congressional apathy | Column, June 16Do your part and skip plastic bagsEvery day we read about the shame of our landfills and oceans filling up with plastic bags, yet most people don’t care. My wife and I always carry ...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

White House defends splitting up families as ‘biblical’ | June 15The suffering of the childrenI am a mother and attorney with more than 20 years of practice living in Tampa. For the past three years, I worked as a magistrate in a Unified Family C...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Saturday’s letters: Community-based care requires community involvement

Fix foster care, and do it quickly | Editorial, June 15Involve the community itselfWhile the detailed article about the scathing state review of Hillsborough County’s foster care problems touched on leadership, a critical point was not addressed....
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Friday’s letters: Freight trains are infrastructure that works in Tampa Bay

Railroads are infrastructure that worksFreight trains carry the loadCentral Florida is our state’s fastest-growing region. We’re on track to outpace South Florida’s growth 2-to-1 over the next several years. Great news for our local economy, but it n...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Thursday’s letters: Charter schools aren’t the enemy

Don’t plug your ears when schools ask for tax | May 20, columnCharter schools aren’t the enemyAs an educator, I am astounded when I hear claims from school board members that charter schools take away funding from the local public school system. ...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/14/18

Wednesday’s letters: Trump’s words insult our Canadian visitors

Trade disputes torpedo G-7 summit | June 10Canadian visitors are owed apologyLike many Pinellas County residents, I’m pleased that we receive thousands of Canadian "snow birds" as part-year residents. Not only do they enhance our economy, but by ...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/13/18

Hernando Letters to the Editor for June 15

Opinion: Commissioners arrogant and incompetentMy wife and I live in Hernando County. As such, we are represented by a Board of County Commissioners where all the members manifest two common traits. Those traits are arrogance and incompetence.The arr...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/12/18

Tuesday’s letters: Fewer guns would reduce suicides

U.S. under suicide watch | June 8Fewer guns mean fewer suicidesIt is a fact that deserves more attention, but got only one sentence in the article about the U.S. "suicide watch:" "The most common method used across all groups was firearms." I spe...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/12/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for June 15

New group to address real women’s issuesLast Saturday our Congressman Gus Bilirakis sponsored a "Woman’s Summit" at East Lake High School that was supposed to deal with women’s issues. Some topics covered were gardening, weight loss and quilting.Mayb...
Published: 06/11/18

Monday’s letters: Bring back the ferry, kick-start transit

Cross bay, but who’ll pay? | June 8Ferry could be a gateway to transitIt’s great news that St. Petersburg is committed to bringing back the world class cross bay ferry service. What a common-sense and practical thing to do in order to ease us int...
Published: 06/08/18
Updated: 06/11/18